Last month, two Senators – who, by the way, opposed the Recovery Act from the beginning – released a report claiming that Recovery Act funds have largely been wasted or mismanaged and the program is not working. Curiously, their report came just as we learned the economy had begun to grow again for the first time in more than a year – something many economists say is largely due to the Recovery Act – and right after the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s nonpartisan research arm embraced by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, said that the Recovery Act was already responsible for well over 1 million jobs. At the time, we debunked many of the claims in the report.
But CNN recently decided to find out for themselves – and the verdict couldn’t be more clear:
“But we took a closer look at the Senators’ top ten examples of so-called waste, we found nine of the ten did not tell the whole story and in some cases were inaccurate.” [CNN, 1/25/10]
You may recall the Senators’ claim at the time that: “The tranquil hamlet of Bainbridge Island, Washington, received $190,000 to upgrade a patrol boat for which it has little need—while it considers downsizing its police force.” [McCain/Coburn Stimulus Checkup, 12/8/10]
And then there was the Senators’ claim that: An “almost empty mall” was awarded an energy grant to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. [McCain/Coburn Stimulus Checkup, 12/8/10]
If this were the first time the Senators had released a report on the Recovery Act that had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese, it might be easier to consider this a simple case of confusion. But we aren’t talking about a great track record with accuracy here. The last time the Senators went through this exercise, more than half of the items in that report turned out to be false or misleading claims as well – while other projects attacked included medical research to help hearing impaired children, and a state of the art project to create jobs in advanced technology.
While this may have been an entertaining exercise for the two Senators, the underlying issues here could not be more serious. Last year, we faced the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression – and while others, including the two Senators, would have preferred to do nothing, we chose to act through the Recovery Act and other economic rescue efforts. Nearly a year later, the evidence is now undeniable that the Recovery Act is working to create jobs and drive economic growth across the country. In fact, the CBO now says the Recovery Act is responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs through projects like these:
The question is not whether the Recovery Act is money well-spent. Everyone from independent economists and the CBO to Republican and Democratic governors and workers across the country on the job at Recovery projects says that it is. The question is whether critics like the two Senators will finally admit that they were wrong to oppose this vital job-creating legislation - and that it’s working in Arizona, Oklahoma and across the country.
Liz Oxhorn is Recovery Act Communications Director